1. Let’s begin by preparing the daikon, wash and peel then cut the daikon into 4 cylinders roughly the size of a decent fillet steak. When prepared place to one side for now. Now to make the dashi, in a decent sized saucepan add approximately 1200ml of water, a hand sized piece of kombu and 2 dried shitake mushrooms. Place onto a medium heat then slowly bring up to a gentle simmer. When the liquid comes up to a simmer remove the kombu then turn the heat down to low and continue to simmer.
2. Now to make this dashi more interesting, slice 10g of ginger and cut 1 spring onion in half. Add the ginger and spring onion to a dry pan then sear on a high heat until charred and fragrant. When ready add to the dashi along with 3 tbsps light soy and 3 tbsps mirin. Now the dashi braise is ready we want to add the pieces of daikon to the braise then cover with a lid and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the daikon is just about cooked.
3. Whilst we are waiting for the daikon to cook we now want to make the Gochujang sauce and start to prep for the tempura. For the sauce begin by finely mincing 2 garlic cloves to a paste. Add the garlic to a pan with 2 tbsps of sesame oil then place onto a low heat. Slowly fry the garlic until fragrant then add 1 tbsp of fine korean chilli flakes and 1 tbsp of gochujang paste and continue to cook on low to bring out the chilli aroma.
4. Now that the base is ready we now want to mellow out the sauce by adding 2 tbsps of mirin, 1 1/2 tbsps light soy, 2 tsp white sugar and a touch of water. Mix well then turn the heat up to medium high and reduce the sauce until it is able to coat the back of a spoon. When ready place into a small bowl and put to one side.
5. For the tempura you can really add whichever veg you have to hand, although this is what I went with. For the sweetcorn, use a knife to remove the kernels then place to one side. Slice the green beans down the middle to fan them out into two and slice the shitake mushrooms. For the tempura batter in a large mixing bowl add 110g plain flour, 15g cornflour and a pinch of salt then mix. Now slowly add 250ml of chilled sparkling water until a fairly light almost transparant constancy is formed. We want to leave raw flour within the batter as this will enable a better crisp to the tempura (refer to the image below). When everything is prepared we can go back to the daikon and start to finish the dish.
6. Now let’s go back to the daikon, after 35-40 minutes of braising it should now be cooked. The best way is to tell is by using a tooth pick to see if the centre is soft. When ready remove the daikon from the dashi and place onto a chopping board (you can save the dashi for another recipe). We now want to score a cross hatch onto the serving side of the daikon then season lightly with salt and black pepper.
7. Next add a large pan onto a medium high heat with a drizzle of oil, when hot add the daikon and sear both sides until golden brown. Just before the daikon is seared we now want to slice and add 2 garlic cloves to the pan and baste the daikon in the infused oil. When ready place the seared daikon onto kitchen paper to drain and we can move onto the tempura and finish the dish.
8. All that’s left to do now is to cook the tempura, we want to do this at the very end to enable the crispiest tempura. Add a generous amount of oil to saucepan and place onto a high heat. Wait until the oil temperature reaches 180°c then we can begin. Start with the sliced shitake and green beans first, lightly dredge in a little flour then add to the batter. Add in batches to the hot oil and fry until crispy. When ready place the tempura onto kitchen paper and season lightly with salt. For the sweetcorn add some of the batter first to act like as a binding agent. When mixed add small spoonfuls into the hot oil and again fry until crispy. When the tempura is ready we are now ready to plate up.
9. Now to serve, this one is up to you how you plate it really, have fun…If you really want to get after it for this recipe add lots of tempura! Hope you like this simple vegan alternative recipe!
Take what you like from this recipe, the braised daikon works well with lots of things, and the tempura veg is great just on its own! If you can’t get hold of daikon you could also try using pumpkin, squash, sweet potato or various other root vegetables. As for what veg to use for the tempura then you could also try tender stem, asparagus, peppers, sweet potato etc…If you are not a fan of gochujang then you could also try a sweet sauce such as teriyaki…Have fun with this recipe I’m sure if you are vegan you will be pleasantly surprised!